San Francisco Hits Yellow Tier, Prepares to Reopen Indoor Bars
San Francisco is just one of six counties in California to reach the yellow tier in the state’s reopening blueprint, and is the first in the Bay Area to achieve that goal. The yellow tier is the least restrictive, allowing capacity limits to increase in a myriad of businesses and indoor bars to finally reopen after more than a year of shutdown.
The thrill behind bars reopening extends beyond a love for indoor drinking. Bars, like concert venues, have been hit particularly hard by pandemic restrictions. In a tourist, night-life-oriented city like San Francisco, keeping bars afloat is not just a matter of fun, but is essential to local livelihood. While necessary and understandable, Covid-19 health guidelines have tanked many public-serving businesses, especially those that involve drinking and lively, breathy interactions.
But Thursday will usher in a new reality that feels somewhat closer to the world we once knew. The revised health order will be published online by the end of business day Wednesday.
Coming one day earlier than originally anticipated, San Francisco will implement yellow tier guidance beginning Thursday, which, beyond bars, means indoor events like concerts (remember those?) will increase to 50 percent capacity and outdoor events can invite up to 67 percent (weird, but okay). Gyms, fitness classes and fitness centers will increase to half capacity, and family entertainment centers can do the same.
Patrons at outdoor restaurants can lose masks while seated, but will be asked to cover thy orifices if and when they need to go inside.
This is all made possible by a dip in daily new cases, down to 26 per day on average, and a thriving vaccination program that has at least partially inoculated about 72 percent of city residents aged 16 and older.
Still, city health officials remain cautious as they loosen restrictions, carefully watching global and national trends in new cases and vaccination rates, the latter dropping off in recent days as the eligible and willing have capitalized on increased dose supply while some simply refuse due to hesitancy or misinformation.
In a statement, San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said:
“Our optimism is tempered by the rollbacks happening right now in Oregon and Washington as a result of the decline in vaccination rates, variants and reopening activities. We must stay vigilant and get vaccination rates even higher to prevent COVID from spreading in San Francisco.”
California, and San Francisco by proxy, has adopted the revised mask guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which essentially outlines common sense measures. New CDC and state guidelines state that fully vaccinated people can strip off the face coverings in most outdoor settings with small groups, as we reported here.